The Episcopal Church
The American Episcopal Church is part of the World Wide Anglican Communion. We are a church governed by Canons and regulations that have historical roots and are open to the present theological understanding of issues that face us today. The current structure of the Episcopal Church includes a Presiding Bishop who oversees and meets regularly with area Bishops (pastors of a diocese) and local priests, deacons and lay representatives to discuss the issues of the church, making changes where necessary to be inclusive, taking positions in a rapid changing world in areas of justice, health, war and economic equity. We believe our church thinking and government rests on three principles: 1) The Bible, 2) Our history and tradition, 3) Reason.
The Rites and Sacraments of the Episcopal Church are there to provide entry and participation with the Sacred. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for example, we experience the power of forgiveness and learn how sharing forgiveness broadens our capacity to learn, love and grow. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist we share in the joy of being part of the Holy/Human reality and taste the sweetness of promise and potential in all that God promises to those who are open to His reality. We celebrate Holy Communion, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage and we offer our sincere appreciation for those who go before us in death, bidding them light eternal and rest. The Rites and Sacraments of the Episcopal Church are communal as much as they are personal, historical as much as they are immediate, present as much as they help us transcend the mundane and enter the extraordinary levels of being and touching the Holy.
What is our History?
The Anglican Church was born in controversy. In the 16th century prior to the Reformation throughout North America the English Church severed its ties with the Catholic Church due to a personal choice by it’s then King Henry the 8th. Choosing to put the church under his authority rather than the authority of the Pope of Rome the church , King Henry the 8th decided to have the Bible written in English and to maintain a service that would meet the needs of both those with a Protestant leaning and those with a Catholic leaning. Thomas Cramer was tasked with writing the Book of Common Prayer that is approximately two thirds scripture and includes, Morning/Afternoon/Evening and Vesper prayer services. The Book of Common Prayer includes complete Eucharistic Services, Wedding Ceremonies, Funerals, Burial Services, Pastoral Prayers, Blessings, etc and has served as the basis for many religious services. The Book of Common Prayer was designed to be inclusive of all people whether Protestant, Puritan or Catholic. It was intended to bring people together in worship even though they may have differing opinions about politics, religion or cultures and through worship find common ground for living and sharing.
Since the 16th century the Anglican Church and now the American Episcopal Church continue to be a place where people from all walks of life, dogma, religious ideas, etc. can come together and worship. The Episcopal Church is at the center of new ideas, old struggles and prophetic uprisings. The Spirit of God moves in the Episcopal Church in ways that listens and includes all of God’s people.